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Article Two

Whether the Love which is an Act of Charity is the Same as Benevolence

We proceed to the second article thus:

1. It seems that the love which is an act of charity is nothing other than benevolence. For the philosopher says that “to love is to will good for someone,” and this is benevolence. The act of charity is therefore nothing other than benevolence.

2. Again, an act belongs to the same power as its habit, and it was said in Q. 24, Art. 1, that the habit of charity belongs to the will. It follows that charity is an act of the will. But it is not an act of charity unless it intends good, and this is benevolence. The act of charity is therefore nothing other than benevolence.

3. Again, in 9 Ethics 4 the philosopher mentions five characteristics of friendship—that a man should will good for his friend, that he should wish him to be and to live, that he should enjoy his company, that he should choose the same things, and that he should grieve and rejoice together with him. Now the 358 first two of these apply to benevolence. Hence the first act of charity is benevolence.

On the other hand: the philosopher says that “benevolence is neither friendship nor love, but the beginning of friendship” (9 Ethics 5). Now we said in Q. 23, Art. 1, that charity is friendship. It follows that benevolence is not the same as the love which is an act of charity.

I answer: benevolence is correctly said to be an act of the will whereby we will good for someone. But it differs from love, whether love be actualized in the sensitive appetite or in the intellectual appetite, which is the will. In the sensitive appetite, love is a kind of passion. Now every passion inclines to its object by impulse. Yet the passion of love is not aroused suddenly, but results from unremitting contemplation of its object. The philosopher accordingly explains the difference between benevolence and passionate love by saying that benevolence “has neither emotion nor appetition,” meaning that it does not incline to its object by impulse, but wills good to another solely by the judgment of reason. Moreover, passionate love is the result of continual acquaintance, whereas benevolence sometimes arises suddenly, as it does when we want one of two pugilists to win. In the intellectual appetite also, love differs from benevolence. For love implies a union of affection between the lover and the loved. One who loves looks upon the loved one as in a manner one with himself, or as belonging to himself, and is thus united with him. Benevolence, on the other hand, is a simple act of the will whereby one wills good for someone, without the presupposition of any such union of affection. The love which is an act of charity includes benevolence. But as love, or dilection, it adds this union of affection. This is the reason why the philosopher says that “benevolence is the beginning of friendship.”

On the first point: the philosopher is giving a definition of love, indicating the character by which the act of love is most clearly revealed. He is not describing the whole nature of love.

On the second point: love is an act of the will which intends good. But it includes a union of affection with the loved one, which is not implied in benevolence.

On the third point: as the philosopher says in the same passage, these are characteristic of friendship because they spring from the love with which a man loves himself. That is to say, a man does all these things for his friend as if for himself, by reason of the union of affection of which we have spoken.

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